Privatisation of Prisons in India: Possibilities and Challenges

AuthorKeshabananda Borah
Published date01 March 2023
Date01 March 2023
Subject MatterNotes
Privatisation of Prisons
in India: Possibilities
and Challenges
Keshabananda Borah1
Privatisation of prisons refers to the contracting out by the government the opera-
tions of prisons to private companies. ‘Private prisons’ are not private sector
prisons but (state) prisons run on contract for the responsible government depart-
ment by a private sector company (Ramsbotham, 1995). Public vs. private debate
on prison institution in India is gaining much attention among scholars, policy-
makers, civil-society organisations and peoples’ representatives as well. Advocates
of privatisation argue that private suppliers deliver public services at a lower cost
than public employees do (Logan, 1990; Savas, 1982). On the other hand, critics
of government contracting quibble that quality of public service provided by
private contractors is inferior in comparison to the service delivered by the gov-
ernment employees (Hart et al., 1997; Shichor 1995). Privatisation of prisons has
triggered heated discussion over the cost and quality in the incarceration process
(Donahue, 1988). Quality inside the prisons covers many aspects, for instance,
living conditions (physical health conditions, mental and emotional conditions of
prisoners, availability of medical facilities to prisoners, accessibility to educa-
tional facilities, accessibility to recreation facilities and conditions of prison
labour, etc.), prisoners’ accessibility to legal aid facility, implementation of speedy
trial, sanction of parole facility to prisoners, sanction of bail to prisoners, prison-
ers’ access to judgment, grievance redressal mechanism and functioning of prison
panchayat, and so on. Prisoners’ right against violence includes (prison offense
and punishment, judicious use of handcuff and security inside the prison, etc.).
The major objection against privatisation of prisons is that private contractors will
engage untrained and unqualified prison guards and low quality goods to save
cost and thereby jeopardise prison safety, security and health issues of prisoners.
Hence, through this Note, the author tries to highlight the problems and prospects
of privatisation of prison in India.
While discussing about privatisation of prison, the most pertinent question is
to what extent government can entrust the private companies to deliver services?
Not all, but some essential facilities in prisons can be privatised or handed over
Indian Journal of Public
69(1) 221–228, 2023
© 2022 IIPA
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/00195561221109049
1 Department of Political Science, Barnagar College, Sorbhog, Assam, India.
Corresponding author:
Keshabananda Borah, Department of Political Science, Barnagar College, Sorbhog, District Barpeta,
P.O. Sorbhog, Assam 781317, India.

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT